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When I Forget God's Goodness
Message by Dr. Rick Mandl at Eagle Rock Baptist Church, January 31, 2021
Recorded in Los Angeles, CA.
Sermon Manuscript: Living In The Goodness Of God Message 1- When I Forget God’s Goodness
Sermon preached by Dr. Rick Mandl, Eagle Rock Baptist Church, January 30 & 31, 2021
Hey E.R.B.C. family. Great to you welcome you as we gather for worship and as we begin a new teaching series based on Psalm 23 called “Living In The Goodness Of God.”
Psalm 23 may be the best known Bible passage of all time. I read this passage of Scripture at every funeral service that I’ve ever led. So many times when I read this passage, whether I’m surrounded by mourners who are churched folk, or non-churched folk. . . I’ve noticed that as I start reading this Psalm, within the crowd I’ll usually spot someone whose lips are moving as they’re mouthing the words along with me as I read them because it’s that familiar.
I’d like to start my message this morning by having us read it together. The words are on the back of your study notes. And I’ve printed it out from the King James Version, which is not the version that I most often teach from. And the only reason for that is that most of the people I’m teaching to, don’t speak King James English. The KJV was written over 400 years ago. But because this is probably the most familiar version when it comes to this Psalm, I’ve chosen that version for us to read it together.
Psalm 23 – verses 1-6. Would you read it with me?
1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
Amen! The 23rd Psalm is a psalm about the goodness of God, and that’s what we’re going to be talking about over these next weeks. And so I want to start by showing you why why focusing on God's goodness is so important in your life, maybe more important and more of a challenge today than it’s ever been before. And then I just want us to look at the first five words of the Psalm and give an overview of where we're going to be going in that Psalm in the coming weeks. . .
So first on the front of your notes. . What happens when I forget God's goodness? The Bible tells us that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” (James 1:17). God showers gifts on you every single day.
When you forget his goodness, you lose sight of that fact. And even worse. . . I start claiming credit for God's gifts, I start claiming credit for the gifts he’s given me and the things he’s done for me. I start saying things like, “I built this business with my own two hands.” So you did, but who gave you your hands? Or you might say, I got where I am today by the sweat of my brow.” Who gave you your brow and who gave you your sweat? Everything you have in your life, you owe to God. If it wasn't for the goodness of God, you wouldn't be sitting here right now. If it wasn't for the goodness of God, you wouldn't be alive.
In Luke, chapter 12, Jesus tells the story of a very rich man who had been very successful, a man who had made a lot of money and amassed a lot of wealth. One day this man is surveying his business empire. This guy says, “Look at what I've done with my life. Look at all of what I've accomplished. Look at all of the wealth that I've amassed. Whatever will I do with all my stuff. I’ve got more than I could ever spend, so what will I do?" And then he has his Eureka moment. He says “I know what I’ll do, I'll just build bigger barns to store it all in."
He didn't give God any of the credit. He takes all the glory for himself. The Bible tells us that God says, to that rich man, "You fool. You fool." He said, "Tonight, you're going to die and everything you’ve accumulated will be given to someone else.” And that’s what happened.
If I were to ask you, what is the worst sin you could commit? I wonder how you’d answer. I wonder what would be on your top 10 list of worst sins. Some of you might say, "Well, it's some sexual sin." Or some of you might say, "Maybe it's being greedy, and abusing other people in order to get more money and things like that." You know what the number one worst sin is in God’s eyes? It’s Prideful ingratitude. It’s Not being grateful to God for his goodness. The Bible talks about this over and over and over. Pride is the sin that got Satan kicked out of heaven. When I stop being grateful to God for all the good in my life, then I get into trouble. 1 Corinthians 4:7 asks the question, “What do you have that God hasn't given you? And if all you have is from God, why do you act as if you're so great as though you accomplished it all on your own?”
Prideful ingratitude, not being grateful to God, for his goodness, is a very serious issue. And the more people are ungrateful, the unhappier they are because they see nothing as a gift of grace, they see everything in their lives in terms of either “I earned that….” Or if they don't have it, they fee like “I deserve to have that.” And so either way they're not happy.
When I forget God’s goodness . . . I start claiming credit for his gifts and then second. . . I stop asking God for help. When I forget how good God is, and how He wants to help me, I stop asking for things in prayer and I start depending on myself. Over 20 times in the New Testament it tells us to ask. We're commanded in Matthew 7:7, "Ask and it shall be given. Seek and you'll find. Knock and the door will be opened."
The Bible says you have not because you ask not, over and over, God wants you to ask for whatever you need in prayer. You say, I only want to give God the big stuff. I don't want to bother him with the small stuff. Here’s something for you to think about. . . Everything you bring to God is small stuff. In light of who he is and his power, it’s all small stuff to God. None of your requests are big to Him. And He wants you to bring them to Him.
The Bible pictures God as a good, good father. Jesus said it this way, "If you as imperfect parents, know how to give good gifts to your own children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who….. What? Ask him" Luke 11:13 (NLT).
In His Sermon on the Mount . . . Jesus draws a contrast between the believer and the non-believer. He talks about the wants and needs we have in life and he says . . . When it comes to those things. . . He says I understand why the people who don’t know God would be deeply concerned about those things . . . But He says . . . That’s not you.
You have a loving father, who loves to give good gifts to those who ask Him, which is why the scripture tells us, to not be timid, but rather . . . “To come boldly to the throne of our good and gracious God. Where we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
When we forget His goodness, we stop asking Him for help. And he wants us to ask. And when we ask, he wants us to wait patiently, trusting his time. Trusting that He will deliver the right answer.
A third thing that happens when I forget God’s goodness is that . . . I stop Trusting God In Difficult Times. God is good, all the time. . . All the time. . . God is good. And that means He’s good even in the Bad times. . God has a good purpose, has a good plan, has a good reason. That’s why the Apostle Paul was able to write. . . “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials..."
Why? Why could he rejoice when he ran into problems and trials? Was it because he wanted those things in his life? No. He could rejoice because He knew how God was able to use them, to produce good things. Things like . . . endurance, and character and hope and patience.
In Romans 8:28, he wrote that, “And we know that God causes everything [not just some things, not just the good things,] but… God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” Romans 8:28 (NLT). If I’m living in the goodness of God then I know that even when times are tough, I know God's good. I know he has a good purpose, a good plan, and he's working it all out for good. Not everything that happens in your life is good. There’s a lot of bad. God can take even the bad and then bring good out of it, and that builds trust in him.
Again, when I forget God’s goodness. . . I start claiming credit for things that God did, I stop asking God for help, I stop trusting God in difficult times, and the fourth thing that happens when I forget God's goodness, is I Become Pessimistic About The Future. When you forget how good God really is, you become pessimistic about the future. You lose hope, because hope is based on the goodness of God. If God isn't good, there is no basis for you to have hope.
In Psalm 27, David points us to the connection between hope and the goodness of God. In Psalm27:13-14 he says this: “I would have despaired. . . He said, "I would have been desperate, I would have been in total despair unless I had believed that I’d see the goodness. . . There it is . . . the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. He said, "Man, there would be no hope if God was not a good God. We'd be up a creek without a paddle. I would have been in despair," but he did know that God was a good God. So he says . . . "Instead, I thought, ‘wait for the Lord!... [I don't see the answer right now; I'm going to wait for the Lord.] Be strong, let your heart take courage! Yes, wait for the Lord!’"
Just because life is not good does not mean God is not good. Don't confuse life with God. We're not pantheists. Life can be very difficult at times. But God is good all the time. And God knows what’s best all the time. And I can trust that I will see the goodness of God even though it doesn't make sense to me right now. Why? Because God is good… All the time. . . And all the time . . . God is good. This whole psalm is about The goodness of God. And David, the one who wrote the psalm, chose to communicate that goodness of God through the imagery of a shepherd and the way that he care for his sheep.
God is the shepherd. We are the sheep. That’s the metaphor that David uses. And today, we’re not going to go any further than the first five words of the Psalm . . “The Lord is my shepherd…” And then in the weeks to follow we’ll look at the rest of the psalm, phrase by phrase. The whole psalm is about a shepherd and his sheep. But that's a problem for us. Because most of us have never really been around any sheep. And most of us do not know any shepherds. How many of you have ever been a shepherd? Can I see a show of hands? Anyone? We got one person over here. That's it. There's one.
At the time the psalm was written, it was written in an agrarian society. So everybody in those days knew somebody who took care of sheep. But because we’re not them, the danger for us is that the whole central metaphor of Psalm 23 can just sail right past us.
The first thing you and I need to know about sheep is that when the Bible. . . When God, likens us to sheep, it’s not a compliment. Let me give you. . Three words to describe sheep . . . Not on your notes but you might want to jot them down . . .
First sheep are DIRTY. Almost every other animal will clean itself. Cats give themselves baths. Do we have any cat owners here? Cats clean themselves. Dogs clean themselves. Raccoons, you know, wash their hands, Elephants take baths. Even birds take baths. Not sheep. They literally cannot take care of themselves. They get filthy, and so they need a shepherd just to cleanse them, By the way, that is not a shepherd spray-painting that sheep. That is a shepherd hosing off that sheep, because that’s how dirty they get. Sheep are DIRTY.
Second Sheep are DUMB. In case you had any doubts, sheep are just not exactly the Einsteins of the animal kingdom. I read a quote from one Shepherd Ed Winton who's a shepherd out in West Texas and he summed it up nicely. He said . . .“Sheep are just born looking for a way to die.” In other words, if there is a way to get themselves killed, they will find it. They get into predicaments they cannot get out of by themselves. They need rescue constantly. We're gonna be telling you some of those stories in this series.
So sheep are dirty. Sheep are dumb. And Sheep are DEFENSELESS. Did you know that sheep are one of the only animals in all of creation without any defense mechanism? I mean, look at this... there is nothing about this creature that is intimidating in any way. Just big soft prey for any predator. That's why sheep need a shepherd because shepherds care for sheep. That’s what shepherds do because sheep can't take care of themselves.
We’re going to look at that as we move through Psalm 23. Next week, what does David mean when he says that because the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. In weeks ahead, how he makes me rest. How He renews my strength. How he leads me and guides me. How he’s with me when I go through dark valleys. . .
I hope you’ll accept our challenge over these coming weeks to commit this Psalm to memory. I know that won’t be much of a challenge for some of you because you memorized it long ago. But the familiarity that some of us have with this Psalm can in itself, be a challenge. This Psalm for some has what you might call “The Pledge Of Allegiance Factor.” And what I mean by that is, just like the Pledge of Allegiance that we memorized long ago, we say the words of this Psalm now, and they just roll off our tongue without us even thinking about them. I like what the author Dallas Willard said about the 23rd Psalm... “Unfortunately, The Lord is my shepherd is a sentiment that's carved on tombstones… more often that it is a reality written into lives.” And that’s my prayer for all of us as we go through this study together. . . That the words of this Psalm would be written into our lives.
David wrote this Psalm toward the end of his life. David, had started out as the obscure youngest child in a family full of notable sons. When the Prophet Samuel came to anoint the next king. . . He came to the house of Jesse, and all the sons of Jesse were there except for David. David hadn’t been regarded as being good enough, to be considered as a future king. They eventually had to go out and find him in the field where he was working as a shepherd.
Starting from there he goes on to slay Goliath, which made him the most popular human being in the country. He’d gone from zero to hero. . . Which if you know the story did not sit particularly well in the face of a jealous King, King Saul. And then David goes from being this guy that everybody's loving, to being a guy who is running for his life - - - hiding out in caves. At one point, he actually acted like he was insane, so that he could keep from being killed.
Finally he becomes King, and he is a great king. But he's got a few problems. His son tries to take the throne. There's that whole mess with Bathsheba And so as great of a king as he was, you could not say that his was an easy or a good, or a wonderful life. Near the end of his life. . . Looking at what he had experienced through the lenses of both the good and bad, David could declare with confidence . . . “The Lord is my shepherd!!”
I wonder, can you and I say the same thing? Is “The Lord Your Shepherd?” As we move forward into this new year, we have two choices in 2021. We can focus on our needs, or we can focus on our shepherd. The choice is ours. Jesus said, there are all kinds of shepherds you can follow. . . In John chapter 10 Jesus said there are a lot of false shepherds out there. . . He described them as “thieves and robbers.” “The true sheep did not listen to them. . . The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:8-10). He goes on and he says . . . “I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock” (John 10:11-12). He said . . I'm not a temporary Savior. I'm not a temporary Shepherd. I'm not a temporary solution for your problems. At the time Jesus spoke these words it was not unusual for a shepherd to hire some help. Nothing wrong with that except . . . When that hired help face danger, maybe a wolf or a bear attacking the flock like David experienced. If it’s a hired hand watching those sheep, well, they’re not his sheep so he's out of there, he doesn't have a personal investment in the flock, like the shepherd did.
Jesus, as our good shepherd, sacrificed his life for the sheep. And he calls us to respond by following him as our shepherd. There was a story from some years back of a famous actor who was at a social gathering. And this actor was a Shakespearian actor, a stage actor, an actor who was know for his great skills in oratory. And because he was well-known people were gathered around him asking him to recite different famous passages, and he was doing it. And there was also an old preacher in that gathering that day. And the preacher put in his request to the actor He said, “Please, sir, would you recite the 23rd Psalm? And the actor said, Well, I will, if you will.
And the pastor agreed, so the actor stood up and began to recite the 23rd Psalm in the way you would think an actor would do it. Very skilled oratory His voice, rising and falling, and all the dramatic elements. And it was just very beautiful and very elegant. And when he was done, everybody applauded. It was amazing. And then he said, to the preacher, now it’s your turn. And the preacher got up to speak and his voice was cracking. And he didn't have really any eloquence at all. But he spoke as if it was a prayer. And it came right out of the depths of his soul. “The Lord is my shepherd. . . . And when he was done, there wasn't a dry eye in the place.
Someone asked later, “What was the difference between those two?” To which somebody else wisely said, well, the actor knew the Psalm. But the pastor knows the shepherd. That's what we want for you, Let’s pray . . .
Dear God. 2021 needs this song, I need this song. I need you to be my shepherd. And for the people listening, I pray that this will be a day when they say, Hey, you know what, I'm going to stop listening to all the other dumb shepherds. And I'm only going to listen to you it's going to start with the Lord, the yawei, the God of the universe, is my personal Shepherd cares for me, loves me, died for me. Seems like everything else that flows out of that should be okay. It's in your name that we pray.
Recorded in Los Angeles, CA.
From Series: "Living In The Goodness Of God"
We live in a world that so often focuses on what’s missing. But did you know that God invites us to experience his goodnes.
God invites us to live a life without scarcity or lack. In Psalm 23 we find a compelling picture of this kind of life. Join us for our new sermon series, “Living in The Goodness of God,” as we learn how a life of goodness is available to anyone who will allow God to be their Shepherd.
Living in the Goodness of God begins January 30th.
How to join:
In-Person during our Outdoor Worship Service on Sundays at 11 am (for details visit: https://www.erockchurch.com/outdoor-worship)
Watch online at www.erockchurch.com/live Live Stream Service Times: Saturday at 5:30pm Sunday at 9am, 11am, 1pm, 6pm Wednesday at 7pm
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